Another jam-packed week on tap at your local record store, as two of music’s brightest talents return with much-anticipated new projects. Too bad only one of same manages to soar:


As part of a duo with his twin brother Evan, he scored a pleasantly melodic radio hit called “Crazy for This Girl” in late 2000, but despite a keen sense of his abilities as a vocalist and a couple of strong records, it seemed as though long-term commercial success in the music business was just not in the cards for Jaron Lowenstein. But not so fast: using the moniker Jaron and the Long Road to Love, Lowenstein is back in the game this week with
Getting Dressed in the Dark, his debut album as a solo act. The first single “Pray for You” — a hilarious kiss-off dedicated to a gal who clearly done this boy ten kinds of wrong — is a burgeoning smash at country radio, and, if his Facebook updates are any accurate indication, Jaron sure is a charmer. This could be a sleeper hit of the highest order.

Let’s face it: it’s a GaGa world now, and all these other little diva-ettes simply live in it. How else to explain Miley Cyrus‘ baffling decision to go batshit crazy on her latest album, the magnificently miscalculated Can’t Be Tamed? Clearly trying to score some goals on Ke$ha’s playing field, Miss Miley gyrates and writhes her way through one mindless dance tune after another, with all but one — the moderately interesting “Permanent December” — flying overhead en route to a complete wipeout. (For good measure, perhaps to cash in on our renewed national obsession with Bret Michaels, the producers also toss in a pompously overblown cover of Poison’s iconic power ballad “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” as though that’s gonna class up this joint at all!) Cyrus’ last record, the fun and feisty Breakout, was a gem; Tamed, sadly, is nothing but a gutterball.

Her 2008 album, the propulsive pop masterpiece Bring Ya to the Brink, was a dynamite return to form, but this week, one of my favorite people on the planet, the stunningly fabulous, ever-mercurial Cyndi Lauper, takes a dramatic 180-degree turn away from that and fulfills a lifelong dream with the release of her eleventh studio project Memphis Blues, an album of classic full-fledged soul and R&B covers. Inspired in part by much-lauded 1986 remake of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On,” Memphis features collaborations with legends Ann Peebles, Allen Toussaint, B.B. King, Charlie Musselwhite, and the sensational Jonny Lang, whom Lauper pulls together for a unique, typically offbeat celebration of the blues.

Also noteworthy this week:


  • White-hot rapper Eminem is back on top with his latest project, Recovery.

  • Rock icon Bruce Springsteen and his legendary E Street Band rip through a handful of their classics in the new double-DVD set
    London Calling: Live in Hyde Park.

  • Sherry Ann’s old fave Mark Chesnutt returns with his latest album, Outlaw.

  • The fabulous folkie Sarah Harmer ends a four year hiatus with her brand new record Oh Little Fire.

  • Conor Oberst, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins, and Josh Ritter are among those who pay tribute to a legend on
    Broken Hearts and Dirty Windows: The Songs of John Prine.

  • Producer T-Bone Burnett has recruited Ben Harper and Leon Russell
    to ably assist Robert Randolph and the Family Band as they
    Walk This Road.

  • Up-and-coming singer/songwriter Griffin House is back with
    his latest effort, The Learner.

  • Canadian multi-instrumentalists Stars follow up their glorious 2007 album In Our Bedroom After the War with the new Five Ghosts.

  • Grammy-winning neo-soul pioneer Macy Gray goes back to basics on her fifth studio album, The Sellout.

  • The brilliantly ethereal Sia is up with her upbeat third solo effort,
    We Are Born.

  • And finally, jazz legend Herbie Hancock follows up his terrific tribute to Joni Mitchell (which won him a Grammy for Album of the Year) with
    The Imagine Project, an ambitious multimedia effort — featuring cameos from the likes of Pink, Dave Matthews, Lisa Hannigan, and James Morrison — through which Hancock aims to use the universal language of music to promote worldwide peace and unity.

1 response to “love’s a game of easy come and easy go
(or: june 22 — a thumbnail sketch)”

  1. the buzz from A.:

    Thanks to Texas weather, Hurricane Alex, and American Airlines, a colleague and I had the opportunity (or the misfortune) to drive through Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama in the middle of the night this past Thursday. Sadly our drive did not include any visits to the Gulf coast or the casinos; rather, we amused ourselves by counting the number of McDonald’s restaurants and listening to country radio. The best song that came up was, without a doubt, “Pray for You.” I highly recommend it, and I am looking forward to exploring the rest of this CD! (Check out “I Hope You Hit Traffic.”)

    P.S. The new Miley Cyrus CD is — well, how do I say it politely? — dreck.